DONNELLSON – The Central Lee Lady Hawks got the win they’ve been looking for all year.
And then they got another one, and another one, and ended up winning the top seed out of the Central Lee Pool of the Southeast Iowa Superconference volleyball tournament.
The Lady Hawks were seeded 12th overall in the tournament and No. 3 at the Hawks' gym.
Fourth-seeded Wapello was the favorite in Central Lee and wound up with the No. 2 seed going into Saturday’s finals at Southeastern Community College after falling to the Lady Hawks 21-18 in the No. 1 seed tiebreaker.
The unorthodox tiebreaker had Wapello, New London, and Central, all of whom finished 3-1 on the night, play a round robin of sorts with New London and Central Lee playing a 21-point tiebreaker after the regular pool play was completed.
The Hawks rolled past the Tigers 21-17, leaving the Tigers out of Saturday’s final. The Tigers were the only team to beat Central Lee in regular play 21-18, 14-21, 8-15. New London’s only loss was to Wapello, and then Central Lee tagged Wapello with a three-set loss in the final regular pool game of the night.
Central Lee Head Coach Amy Cook said the girls needed to get that big win over Wapello.
“Yesterday at practice focused on listening to each other. It was hard for some of them. But we needed a win. We just needed a win to prove to ourselves that we could do it,” Cook said.
“We were just like 'what do you have to lose, it’s just a game'. They're having fun now and hopefully that will give us some momentum going into Saturday.”
Halle Lampe and Taylor Jones rose to the occasion in the final game against Wapello, knowing if they could beat the Arrows, they could force a tiebreaker.
The Lady Hawks fell in the opening set 16-21 and looked to be out of the finals on Saturday. A loss to Wapello would have left the Arrows at 4-0 on the night and New London at 3-1. They would have taken the two spots in the final, leaving the Hawks at home.
But in the second set, Central Lee looked to have found the energy they’ve been missing all year, racing to a 21-6 win.
Jones had four kills and a huge block in the win, while Lampe had three kills, including a nice little push to the corner on an attack for the win.
Jones said communication and confidence were the keys in the Lady Hawks' comeback.
“When we can communicate ourselves out of a rut, that helps us. We can’t get the game back unless we communicate. We were good about that tonight. Everyone played with their heart in the end,” Jones said.
“We really wanted this tournament. Nobody wanted to lose that last game when we had come that far.
Jones finished the night with 70 kills in six matches. She was also 45/50 serving with eight aces, had seven blocks, and 45 digs. Lampe had 45 kills, seven blocks, and 42 digs.
Josie Newton was 39-40 serving with seven aces. Brooklyn Jones was a perfect 32/32 serving, while Jalyn Hawk was 38/38 serving.
Cook said getting the No. 1 seed is huge for the Lady Hawks going into the tournament finals.
“We have been struggling with our team chemistry and we just needed a win, let alone being first seed. They see it now. As long as we're communicating and having fun, then everything else will fall into place,” she said.
The Hawks got wins over WACO 21-15, 21-21, 15-9 to win the first round before falling to New London. They then downed L-M 21-10, 21-10 before going on the run with the wins over New London and Wapello.
Saturday's action at Loren Walker Arena starts at 5 p.m. Central Lee will take on the runner-up of Pool 3 following the first matches of the evening.
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